Newly released data is contradicting previous projections of how automation could affect the job market. Maybe we won’t be replaced after all.
In 2013, Oxford University released statistics related to job automation in the U.S. One figure stood out: 47% of jobs in 2010 in the U.S. stood a high risk of being automated soon. By “soon”, they meant the next 20 or so years.
However, a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) begs to differ. According to OECD, the true projections are much lower than the 2013 estimates.
Why is this and what does this mean for the future of robots and humans?
Old Numbers for Present Fears in the Job Market
No one wants to hear that they are being replaced at their job for any reason. But being replaced by a robot almost stings more than being replaced by a different person.
Extrapolating these fears into the job market at-large spurs much anxiety across various industries. But these fears, while valid, don’t have as much traction as they once did.
Thanks to the new OECD report, we know that only around 14% of jobs in OECD countries are automatable. These countries include Japan, Canada, the U.S., the UK, and others.
What Caused Such a Discrepancy?
The OECD attributes the inflation of the previous report to a lack of nuance in the data. After all, for some jobs, only a portion of that work can be automated.
The OECD researchers also considered that factories in developed countries may have more involved internal processes. This could deter automation due to its intricacy or necessity for the human touch.
Despite this, the researchers warned that the effects of automation won’t be overlooked.
Young workers and people in low-skill positions will be most affected in the job market. The researchers attribute this trend to the unequal risk distribution in automation.
“Re-qualification is an important mechanism to aid the transition from more to less automatable jobs,” the researchers cautioned in The Verge. They advocated the importance of giving “retraining and social protection” to affected workers.
As we’ve said before, universal income is necessary in an automated world.
The New Plan for AI Working Alongside Humans
Some human workers already lost their jobs to robots like in Alibaba’s smart warehouse. But other robots, like Flippy, are designed to work alongside humans and assist them. Well, to be more specific, humans and the robots assist each other.
The robot from Auris Health known as The Monarch Platform operates similarly. It is a robot designed to help surgeons perform bronchoscopies. This increases the efficiency of the procedure and the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis.
In the middle of these two concepts is Mitsubishi’s AI engineer for power plants. It is an AI-powered robot designed to maintain other machines. Given that people service those machines now, this interferes directly with their jobs.
So, where does the automation stop when you have machines servicing other machines?
Social Responsibility & Automation
While we might not be heading for the future presented in Wall-E, the movie brings up a great question. It discusses the question of social responsibility in an automated world.
As we move ever forward to an automated future, societies and governments will need to adjust. Retraining and universal income are two future essentials.
That’s why it is encouraging to see major corporations launching Industry 4.0 initiatives.